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Harmony Remotes 300-700
If you’re looking for a universal remote that can do it it all, then maybe the Logitech Harmony line has something you’ll like. The Harmony remotes from the Harmony 300 to the Harmony 1100 are some of the most powerful remotes out there. They can control almost any audio and video device out there, they can even control non-AV devices like air conditioners (as long as they have a remote function). The higher end models have an LCD screen, the Harmony 1100 is a touch screen remote. Most (but not all) have multi-device macros, that is the ability to call up a particular setup with the touch of a button. Lets say you want to turn your TV and audio system on, with your TV channel automatically set to your movie channel, and your audio system on a certain volume level. One of the coolest things about the whole Harmony line is the ability to plug them into your computer and use an online program to set up your remote. There’s an online setup wizard, you put in the type of devices you have and the system walks you through, and sets up your remote. User reviews say that it’s not perfect, sometimes you’ll have to tweak a few things, but it’s still better than entering device codes for every piece of equipment you own.
Harmony One - Harmony 1100
Harmony Remote Features.
Another nice feature that’s common to all the remotes is the infrared learning, that means you can take the remote that comes with a particular device and use it to program the Harmony remote. This might not be so necessary with the online setup wizard, but it’s a nice feature to have. All the remotes in the Harmony line have a color LCD screen except for the Harmony 300. The Harmony One, and the 900 and 1100 all have a touch screen LCD, as well as controlling 15 devices. The upper end devices also have RF (radio frequency) that means they have a base that you can put inside your media center doors so that they can be closed and your devices will still work. You can keep your devices hidden behind closed doors and still use your remotes.
The Harmony 700 and up have a recharging feature, the 700 uses the USB cable for attaching it to the computer. Most people say that connecting it overnight once a month, will usually do the trick. Some users have said they use a mini USB phone charger as well. If you don't want to go the recharging route then the 700 also uses AA batteries. The Harmony One and above use charging cradles and proprietary batteries. That means if the battery (or charger) dies you can't just put any old battery in it.
Some of the downside to these remotes is the price. The lowest priced model, the 300 is 40 dollars (controls 4 devices). However the ability to program it online, makes it attractive for someone who doesn’t feel like punching in device codes, or reading a long manual. The multi device macros (mentioned above) are also a nice feature. In fact, it sounds like a feature that anyone would like to have in a remote, but oddly enough it’s been removed from some models (the Harmony 900 and 1100). It’s raised a lot of anger with Logitech buyers, as you might imagine it’s something you’d expect with a $200+ remote (yes you read that right). The lower end models only control a few devices too. The 300 controls 4 devices, has macros and retails for around $40-50, the 650 controls 5 devices, has an LCD screen and supports macros. The 700 controls 6 devices, has a color LCD and macros, and so on until you get to the Harmony One (which does have multi device macros and is cheaper than the 900) which controls 15 devices, has an LCD touch screen and is rechargeable.
All in all the Logitech Harmony remotes are mostly for power users with large systems, although the lower end models could appeal to someone with an average system (TV, DVD/Blu-ray, stereo, cable box, and game system) who wants all in one control, with an easy to program remote. Word on the street is that the Harmony One, is probably the best buy for your money, it’s under $200, has multi device macros, a touch LCD screen, and is rechargeable. The Logitech.com site has a nice feature comparison, so you can check the features you want an it will show you a list of remotes with that feature. They aren't the only PC programmable remotes out there, but they're probably the most popular, and Logitech has the most extensive offering.